When I first met my husband, he drank soda all day, had a freezer full of hot pockets, and ate “just add water” pancakes from a mix most nights. Seriously.
He can also be a wee bit… stubborn. So let’s say I had my work cut out for me!
Believe it or not, my husband is now pretty passionate about real food! And if he can come around, your partner can to.
Here are 6 tips to get reluctant family members to try (and love!) real food.
1. Share information
When introducing the idea of switching to a real food diet, be clear about what real food is and is not. Many people associate “healthy food” with “tasteless food products,” but as we know that is the opposite of real food! Real food is food that is grown and harvested as naturally and sustainably as possible. It’s nourishing, wholesome, and scrumptious!
Tell your family members that the fat in real food is actually good for them, and that they’re free to eat lots of it (while the fat in conventional food is usually bad and best avoided). That means: no more low-fat food! In fact, let them know that you will be using more butter, cream and bacon grease. Yum!
2. Teach the ethics of factory farms vs. small farms
There are so many reasons to stop supporting agribusiness beyond the healthfulness of their products. Factory farms have a disregard for animal welfare and use unsustainable farming practices that pollute local communities.
Factory farmed animals are less healthy. Animals are confined in small spaces with minimal room for normal behaviors and little or no access to the outside. Because animals are kept in filthy, unnatural conditions, they are given preemptive antibiotics to ward off disease. They are also given growth hormones to increase milk and egg production or to promote faster growth. All of which can be passed into the animal products we buy. Source
Big agribusiness is hard on the land. The large scale growing of corn and soy to feed factory-farmed livestock depletes soil of nutrients, which makes chemical fertilizers necessary. These fertilizers further deplete the soil and create increased erosion of topsoil. Manure runoff pollutes the water and air of local communities. Source
These kinds of operations are meant to increase production without regard for the healthfulness of their product.
Small farms = good for the animals & the land. Alternately, animal products from small farms can be sustainable, cruelty free, and much healthier (Of course, it’s important to investigate your local small farm for yourself). Because crops are grown naturally and sustainably and livestock are raised on pasture, animals typically don’t need and aren’t given hormones, antibiotics, or other medications.
3. Keep things as normal as possible
Yes, you may want to overhaul your pantry from top to bottom, but that could provoke a family revolt! Instead, go slowly in the beginning so your loved ones stay open to trying something new.
Start by making favorite dishes with upgraded ingredients. Replace conventional meat and dairy with pasture raised beef, whole milk (raw if you can get it in your area), and butter. Trade factory eggs for organic pastured eggs. These changes can make a huge impact on your health, but will probably go unnoticed by family members (or maybe noticed in a positive way!)
Trade one conventional product for a whole food version each week. Once your family starts to detox all of the refined salt, sugar, and additives in processed food, they will begin to notice how much better real food tastes.
4. Give your kids a say
I’m a huge fan of providing choices for children. It gives them the feeling of autonomy when they are able to choose things for themselves while giving you the ability to restrict their choices to what you find acceptable.
When transitioning to a whole food diet, it can be very helpful to give your children new choices to replace their old favorites. For example: if they love fruit snacks ask them, “would you like to make our own apple fruit snacks or banana?” If you aren’t quite to the point of making your own fruit snacks, then trade the junky ones for a healthier brand and ask them which flavors they want.
Let your kids pick out fruits and veggies at the store or, better yet, include them in growing them at home (if you have access to garden space). Kids are many times more likely to try something that they grow or choose themselves.
5. Give them an out
Forever is a scary word. If you begin your real food journey as a trial (say 6 weeks), then it is a lot easier for reluctant family members to give it a try, knowing that if they don’t like it, they can go back to their old way of eating in a few weeks.
Some families find it useful to make a two bite rule, which means everyone is required to take two bites of a new meal before they decide they don’t like it.
6. Buy real food, not junk
If you are the main grocery shopper, you can let your family know that you won’t be buying xyz anymore. My suggestion is to explain that, if they want to have xyz, they need to buy it with their own money. This works for kids as well as spouses! It’s effective because you are not controlling what they do, but simply changing what groceries you buy for the family.
Instead, find real food snack and meal recipes that are yummy! There’s no better way to convince your family that real food is fantastic than with super yummy food. Healthy, tasty snacks are especially important in getting family members on board — once they taste how yummy and amazing real food cookies are, they’ll be hooked!
How about YOU?
How have you convinced your family members to get on board with real food? Share with us in the comments below!